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India: Fear for safety: Y. Mani, human rights defender

, N° d'index: ASA 20/015/1999

On 16 April 1999, human rights defender Y. Mani was taken into army custody where he was badly beaten and threatened with death. Although released the next day, Amnesty International is concerned for his continued safety.

PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 20/15/99
UA 81/99 Fear for Safety 20 April 1999
INDIAY. Mani, human rights defender
On 16 April 1999, human rights defender Y. Mani was taken into army custody
where he was badly beaten and threatened with death. Although released the
next day, Amnesty International is concerned for his continued safety.
Mr Mani is Vice President of the All Manipur United Clubs Organization (AMUCO),
which has recently protested about human rights violations in the state.
Security forces from the 32 Rashtirya Rifles [a unit of the armed forces]
searched his home first before leaving an arrest document with his father and
taking him to the local army camp.
Once at the camp they accused him of belonging to the Revolutionary Peoples
Front (RPF - an armed opposition group operating in Manipur). They also accused
his and several other non-governmental organizations in Manipur of having links
to armed opposition groups.
They reportedly then beat him about his body, including his head and face,
with a wooden stick and on his back with an iron chain and threatened to shoot
him and dump his body.
It appears that Y. Mani was only handed over to the Superintendent of Police
in Bishenpur District the next day as a result of appeals by AMUCO and the
intervention of the Governor of Manipur. He was handed over to police as “white”,
which indicates that he is not a suspect.
The Rashtirya Rifles have reportedly admitted arresting Y. Mani but have denied
torturing him and claim that they released him as soon as they discovered he
was Vice President of AMUCO.
Y. Mani needed to be hospitalized for two days as a result of his injuries.
Human rights activists visiting him there said that he was bruised and swollen
and that one of his toes had been crushed. Although now out of hospital he
is not staying at his home for reasons of safety.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Manipur, a north-eastern state of India, has been riven by internal conflict
for decades. Its troubled political history has been perpetuated by a multitude
of factors including economic under-development, drug-smuggling and
corruption. Armed opposition groups have emerged, organized on the basis of
community affiliations, making conflicting demands for greater autonomy and
self-determination.
Human rights violations by security forces, in the context of the conflict,
are widespread. For some years Amnesty International has expressed concern
about illegal detention, torture, including rape, death in custody and an
official policy which appears to sanction killings by security forces. Special
legislation introduced into Manipur decades ago in the form of the Armed Forces
Special Powers Act allows for virtual impunity for the armed forces.
This climate makes the work of human rights defenders extremely difficult.
In response to human rights violations, local people have come together to
protest at the activities of security forces - most commonly forming Joint
2
Action Committees (JACs) to campaign for redress for victims. In recent weeks,
local people in Bishenpur District had joined together in protest at army and
police operations around Loktak lake which have caused economic hardship for
many. As a result, a memorandum on the subject was submitted to the Manipur
State Human Rights Commission and Y. Mani appointed as Vice-President of the
Bishenpur Joint Action Committee. Two female activists, Meira Paibees
[literally “Torch bearers” -- communities of women whose traditional form of
protest is torch-light processions] were recently injured after being shot
by security forces. Y Mani had been active in protesting against this shooting.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- urging the authorities to guarantee the safety of Y. Mani, recently arrested
and beaten by security forces in Manipur;
- urging the authorities to immediately order an independent judicial inquiry
into reports that Y. Mani was tortured and threatened with death in army
custody;
- urging the authorities to give a commitment that human rights defenders are
free to carry out their peaceful activities without fear or harassment.
APPEALS TO:
Minister of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block
New Delhi 110 001
India
Telegrams:Home Minister, New Delhi, India
Faxes:+ 91 11 301 5750
Salutation: Dear Home Minister
Minister of Defence
Ministry of Defence
South Block
New Delhi 110 001
Telegrams:Defence Minister, New Delhi, India
Faxes:+ 91 11 301 5403 (this number can be difficult to reach at certain times)
Salutation:Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Mr Nipamacha
Chief Minister of Manipur
Office of the Chief Minister
Imphal, Manipur, India
Corps Commander (in charge of Nagaland and Manipur sectors of armed forces
operations)
3
rd
Indian Army Corps
Rangapahar, Nagaland, India
c/o 99 A.P.O.
and to diplomatic representatives of India accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 1 June 1999.

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